It used to be that Hallowe’en was all about the Peanuts special and the myth of the Great Pumpkin; masks you couldn’t breathe through with costumes that couldn’t fit over your snowsuit; and, the scary house at the end of the street everyone knew was inhabited by a witch, or worse. Over the last few years, certainly since my kids preferred to go to a party, rather than trick-or-treat, I’ve been able to consider celebrating the “holiday” in a way that is more in keeping with my personal sensibilities than the more commercial events.
Certainly living on the boundary of a large cemetery has brought my attention back to a few things I was aware of before I grew up and conformed.
This year, I wanted to honour Samhain in some way. It resonates completely with me as it is an authentic celebration, a nod to my Celtic roots. What is it? Samhain is a Festival of the Dead meaning “Summer’s End” and pronounced saah-win or saa-ween. A celebration of the end of the harvest and the start of the coldest half of the year. For many practitioners, Samhain also is the beginning of the spiritual new year. Many believe that it is the time when the veil between the dead and the undead is at its most transparent, when the boundary between this world and the “otherworld” could more easily be crossed.
I cobbled together a few practices that resonated with me. I prefer celebrations that are not about the giving or receiving of things, but focus on how you see yourself in the world and what you can do to make it better for you, and as a result, everyone.
A traditional practice is to put out an offering of food, a glass of wine or something similar out in your garden, back yard or balcony for the spirits who are wandering or traveling on this special night. Honouring the spirits in this way is said to bring protection and good fortune. The best part? Caden (my only child home with me) was completely on board as we searched the house for everything we needed and then ran out to the LCBO for the gin and beer!
We set out an offering of food and some favoured beverages for the spirits wandering or traveling this night. In particular Grandpapa (red wine), Bill (Miller, full pour, I promise!), Nanny (Bailey’s), Grampy/Big Hugh (Gin), white wine for anyone interested (who doesn’t like white wine!), food for The Big D – mostly the grapes as a reminder of grazing days in the produce sections. The whole spread was put together with much love from here to there tonight and every night. I am grateful to Caden who #1 didn’t think I was crazy; and, #2 helped me bring everything outside!
RELEASE LIMITING BELIEFS
With a candle burning, I sat quietly and took a look at the things in my life that are rotting away or need to be released. On scraps of paper they were written and put in a cast iron pot and burned. The death of these old aspects of myself are to be transformed by the flame. The death of these old limiting beliefs will be replaced by new energy that I want to bring into my life in the year that lies ahead.
Along with my physical WEIGHT, I really dug deep and included a lot more limiting beliefs than I thought I had! So many tears were shed as I got to the core of my truth that I was afraid the paper wouldn’t burn. It did. This has been a very volatile few months and the emotional weight of that burden alone was enough to write “weight” more than once! Full disclosure, words included: acceptance, belonging, approval, judgment, intolerance, inclusion, romance, need. The death of these old aspects of myself will be replaced by the new energies I want to bring into my life in the year that lies ahead.
LOVE AND THANKS
The idea is to set up an altar with a picture of your loved ones who have passed, putting candles and flowers by the photos in order to send love and thanks to them.
Only one person in the photo has passed, my Nanny, second from the right. I miss her every day. To honour her, I have an African Violet, purchased this past year when I was missing her terribly and wanted a living-breathing reminder of her presence in my life. I would not be the woman, or more importantly the mum, I am without her having been such a loving, determined and generous part of my life. I chose this photo because I miss this family unit. Really. I sent love to who all those people used to be, who we used to be, and thanks for my being a small part of it. (I also sent love and thanks for that outfit – even with the shoulder pads – all hand painted, and the bright pink pumps I wore that night!)
WHAT LIES AHEAD
Time to pull a card. I was not surprised, given the emotional exhaustion of my last few months, that more emotional exhaustion is to come!
Mending. Yes. Sadly I am the one who has to be the mender. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. I am always cast in that role: the bigger person taking the higher road. It will not change this time around but I am no longer afraid of saying enough already. On a lighter note, I am thrilled with these new oracle cards from Colette Baron-Reid. They are visually stunning as well as being filled with incredible insight and energy. LOVE THEM.
At the point when the veil was thinnest (traditionally midnight), I sat quietly by my altar and burning candle. I was open to any specific inspiration or messages. I settled into the dark of my family room and waited to go on a guided meditation with some healthy skepticism. Maybe it was the watching of Practical Magic – a happy Halloween tradition – or maybe the goddesses of renewal and rebirth really did come to visit, but for at least one night my active, lucid, dreams were pretty fabulous. Intense. Wonderful. Edgy. I don’t remember any of them what I do remember is how they made me feel.
I just spent the last 18 years getting my kids dressed up and sugared up to celebrate Hallowe’en. I’m looking forward to spending the next 18 and longer celebrating Samhain. It was a tremendous experience that really meant something genuine and true to me.
* Featured image is not mine, it was found here.